The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, January 01, 1921, Page 11, Image 11

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    W K,v--WT
The Crime of Com
petitive Armament
William H. Crawford was secretary of treas
ury under both Madison and Monroe from 1816
to 1825. In his feport for 1820 just a century
ago; We find this naive announcement:
"The revenue for the years amounts to $24,
50,000, which may bo estimitf ed as tho perma
nent annual revenue."
Fifty years ago (in 1870). the total of the ordi
nary disbursements of the federal government
amounted, to $293,675,00,5. For the. fiscal year
ended June 30, 1C20, the operating expenses of
running the government amounted to $6,133,
716,757.52, excluding payments for the Panama
Cahal, for postal service, for public debt and
special purposes a 2,000 per cent increase.
' Tcr the year 1869-70, when the population
was 38,558,371, the per capita cost of running
the national government was $7.61. Last year,
when the continental population "was 105,683,-108,-
the per. capita cost was $58.04. In other
words, while the population in fifty years" has in
creased 200 per cent the per capita cost of keep
ing ourselves governed hos ncreaged 600 per
. VQf the $293,6.75,005 expended in 1870 for the
ordinary, disbursements of the government,
$237,011,606, more than four-fifths of tho' total,
.was either payment for past wars or cost of pre
paration for future wars.
Ten years later, in 1860, the military disburse
ments amounted to $204,188,650, or nearly four
rifths'of ttte" total ordinary disbursements, ; which
were $264,847,637.
At the end of the next decade, ill 1890, tho
military' disbursements were, over two-thirds of
k the total disbursements $209,625,183 out of
" Jii 1900 the proportion again was four-fifths.
The cost of running the war and navy, depart
ments, plus what went for pensions and interest
on the public debt, -was $371,765,495; the total
lor all ordinary disbursements was $.487,713,792.
Ten years ago these four war items totalled
$461,124,818 out of $659,705,391, or nearly
.The, staggeringr. burden of taxation today is
still the staggering burden of expenditures for
past and future wars. The estimates for the
navy alone for the coming fiscal year exceed the
total cost of government for the first year of the
"Wilson administration, excluding appropriations
for the post office department, which is practi
cally self-sustaining. There can be no reduction
in taxation, there can be no measure of economy
in government which will appreciably, lighten the
load of taxation, that does not begin .with war
. Mr. Borah has introduced in the Senate a reso
lution requesting the President to enter into
negotiations with Great Britain and Japan look
ing to a reduction of 50 per cent annually in
naval, expenditures for a period of five years.
Secretary Daniels suggests that if tho United
States is to be kept out of the League of Nations
by the Harding administration a conference ot
the nations should be called to consider the mat
ter of disarmament. -
Both of these suggestions are in harmony with
the purposes of the League of Nations, although
Senator Borah is an irreconcilable opponent of
the League. All the great nations are proceeding
with their preparedness programs, although
all of them except the United States are on the
very verge of bankruptcy Our naval estimates
"for 1920 are $679,515,731. Great Britain's actual
appropriations amount to $410,597,796, with the
program for capital ships held in abeyance.
France has appropriated 'for naval purposes
174,829,243, which she needs for reconstruction
work, and Italy's appropriations are $78,389,226,
while Japan, .the country whose military pro
gram is now .the chief concern of the United
States, is spending $187,207,243.-
The Japanese have said that they cannot agree
. ito reduce armament if the United States is to
continue, to arm, and the chief argument in sup
port of the American program is the policy of
the.Japanese. The United States is the richest
and mos.t'-powerful country in the world, and it is
the only great power that is-outsidejthe League.
Naturally, there ,can be .no confidence anywhere
! fi. disarmament while the United States holds
I ajoof, and it is, therefore, the duty of this coun-
try to take tho.le,ad. ,, .;M' ...
" SehatQr Bjmrah's. resolution is in he rjght,. di
rection. Secretary Daniel's suggestion is in the
right direction. Our war expenditures are stif
ling our own prosperity and they are helping to
bankrupt everybody else. They are as pernicious
an example to the nations today as Germany's
military program was ten years ago.
If there is any lesson whatever to bo learned
from a war that has cost more than 10,000,000
lives and nearly $300,000,00.0,000 in treasure it
is the criminal folly of competitive armament,
and if the United States is unwilling to take tho
initiative in destroying this system its burden of
guilt Is even greater than its burden of wanton
extravagance. Now York World.
firm convictions backed by resolute wlllj and
they have go to bo tho convictions and tho will
of the man charged with tho final responsibility.
There ought, then, to be no illusion about
Senator Harding's conferences. They may bo
exceedingly helpful. All of us hppe they will
bo. But sagacity and energy are not born of tho
mcro act of consulting. When all is over, one
individual will have to mako his choice even if
he decides merely to yiold to preponderant opin
ion, that will bo a choice and tho individual
is Warren G. Harding. New York Times.
. The conferences already begun by Senator
Harding are almost without precedent in Ameri
can politics. For they relate not to appointments,.,
but to policies. Old custom is for a man about
to become President to consult with party chiefs
and political advisers. Bv.t the question dis
cussed has usually been who should be named
for the cabinet, who placed in charge of this and
the other branch of executive work. This time,
however, it is something more fundamental. The
cardinal plans of the party are to be talked over
at Marion. In one Yital mattor the Republican
party went before the country confessing that it
had not been able to formulate a policy. It did
not know what it would do. about the League ot
Nations. It asked the country to give it a blank
check. The task ot filling it in is to be under
take:, by Mr. Harding in consultation with mindff
that may be "tho best," but are certainly wide
apart in opinion. Nothing just like this has ever
before been recorded in party annals.
Everybody must hope that wisdom will issue
from the multitude of counselors at Marion,. If
Mr. Harding is able to announce in his inaugural
address, or in a message to congress, a clear and
Bound policy respecting America's attitude to
ward inescapable world problems, he will receive
hearty and non-partisan support. All are ready
to pledge him that in advance. But good-will
alone cannot make difficulties vanish as by a
magic wand. Steady thinking by clear heads is
necessary. And it would be foolish to overlook
the inherent uncertainties and dangers of such
.o nsultations as those upon which Senator Hard
in: is now entering.
His situation, be it remembered, is not that of
a man who has made up his mind for himself
and is inviting criticism. That kind of iron
striking upon iron is most useful to a public
man. The complaint that we have had tco little
of it during President Wilson's last years in of
fice appears to be justified. Any President, or
President to be, who has slowly shaped an im
portant policy, ought to be glad to ask friendly
and capable men to search it for unsuspected
weaknesses. He may have overlooked some
thing. He may have failed to weigh certain re
sults. Criticisms or suggections may save him
from blundering, or from being compelled to
modify or withdraw his plans after they have
been made public. Free, fearless and confi
dential discussion is plainly of the greatest help
to an executive who has wrestled his way
through to the framing of a great policy of state.
This, however, is not at all the case at pres
ent wit?: Mr. Harding. He is not asking critics
to come to Marion, but original constructors.
They are not to point out the joints in his
armor; they are to make it for him. He has
frankly stated that he has no settled policy. His
mind he will offer to his visitors as a sensitized
photograhpic plate. It is for them to seek to
mako the right impressions upon it. The hope
seems to be that a pleasing composite picture
will result. This is the aspect of the Marion con
sultations which makes them unique. The next
President will, as it were, lay his mind before
his counselors as a tabula rasa. They are to
try tj write on it something definite.
Tho process cannot, of course, be so simple as
that. Senator Harding may appear only to be
listening. In reality he will bo judging. In the
end he himself will have to decide the matter.
Amid tho floods of advice given to him, he will
need to Select what he thinks good and reject
the bad. Nor can he come to his decision merely
by counting the noses of his counselors. It is
not numbers but weight that ought to be de
cisive. In the early days of the presidential
campaign of 1896 it was said that Mr. McKinley
kept his letters and telegrams in two piles: one
urging him to come out for the gold standard,
the other appealing for-bimetalism. For a can
didate to let his views rise and fall with his heaps
of letters may possibly be endured. It may be
ncessary in an election. But it will never do for
a President. It will not work in actual and 'suc
cessful administration. ' There we must nave
Mr. Bryan, fresh from conferring with Mr.
Harding at Marion, confers with Senator Borah
in this town about tho league of nations. Should
wo want stronger proof tho that loague is prop
erly not a party question, and that our politics
should end at tho waterside?
Mr. Bryan is a Democrat, and for years was
tho loader of his party. Ho may resume that
leadership. Ho was opposed to making tho
loague a party question in tho recent campaign,
and predicted defeat at tho polls if It were done
On the President's motion it was done, and tho
democracy wont to the most disastrous defeat in
its history.
Mr. Harding is a Republican, and the league
question has been put Into his hands as the
loader of his party. Mr. Borah Is aRepubliean,
and as a member of the Senate wiliave a vote
on whatever Mr. Harding as President may sub
mit to that body In his efforts to promote perma
nent peace for tho world.
In the end these men may not -agree. Even
Mr. Harding and Mr. Borah may differ, But the
fact that they are confabulating together with
a view of reaching common ground on tho league
question is a praiseworthy exhibition of the true
American spirit.
And it may be said with all respect that had
Mr. Wilson proceeded in this way before leaving
for Paris havo lifted tho league question abow
party by conferring with leading men of bolh
parties about what should be done it would
have been better for him, for his party, for tho
country and maybe for the whole world. Wash
ington Star.
A Washington dispatch, dated Jan. 9, says:
Senator Johnson, Republican, California, iff a
statement today, forecasted his intention to push
his project for a federal presidential primary
law, but recognized opppsition to bo met.
"Progressiveism has not passed; certain pro
gressives have," he said. "The limelight pro
gressives, who were more interested in office
than in policies, have wanted their horrible past
forgotten, and have endeavored to atone by out
regularizing regularity. But progressiveism is
yet enshrined in tho hearts of millions. Reac
tion is on. We witness the assault upon the di
rect primary. If this succeeds, there is little that
exploiting privilege has to feaffrom public of
ficials. The bitter, concerted movement against
labor is the accompaniment of the endeavor to
take from voters the right of nominating their
public servants. To prevent the direct, primary's
destruction or modification is work ahead for
progressives, and this work will be done by the
rank and file, and if necessary in spite of pro
gressivism's former leaders."
During the present year the American farmers
harvested the largest -crop of corn in all history.
During the present year the American coal
trust harvested the largest crop of soft coal in
any year in the history of coal.
Today the farmer receives for his. corn one
third of the price he received for his last year's
Today tho coal trust Is receiving the highest
price ever paid for coal by the American people.
Why is the big crop of corn selling at such a
low price, and why Is the big yield of coal selling
at such q, high price?
Ask any average schodl-boy, and quickly ho
will tell the reason why the price of coal is
now sky-high, and why he price of corn is dog
low. And he will give the answer in just one
word, and the letters of .that word spell
It is the old story oyer again. .The men who
own the American coal trust are organized. Tho
men who own or till -the American farms are
not organized. Edgar Howard, in " Columbus,
Neb., Telegram.
A. tlk&t'iLjuk